Masonia Traylor is a mother of two, and an International Activist for HIV/AIDS. During a routine medical visit in late 2010, she was told by the provider that she “was not at risk” for HIV. At the tender age of 23, she was diagnosed as HIV positive and 2 weeks later found out that she was pregnant, which changed her life. Since then, she has served as a youth representative of the states, Georgia Community HIV Prevention Planning Group, Sister Love Inc., Aid Atlanta (Ask Us Teens), Red Pump Project, Atlanta Area Outreach Initiative, Georgia Equality, and Ryan White Planning Council. She is also a participant in National HIV/AIDS awareness campaign CDC, “Stop HIV Together” and Georgia’s/ Kaiser Family Foundation, “Greater Than Aids.” She is a recent graduate (B.S.) of the Andrew Young School of Public Policy Studies at Georgia State University. She is currently working as a Pharmacy Technician and dedicates herself as a passionate HIV/AIDS Youth & Young Adult Advocate & Activist through her company, Lady BurgAndy that works through peer educating, public speaking, and social media.
Daniel Driffin serves as a Project Manger with the Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) at the University Connecticut on the Think Twice: A MSM Serosorting Project under the leadership of Lisa Eaton, Ph.D. With experience working in hardest affected communities, Daniel has leadership in providing Rapid Pre/Post HIV Test Counseling, specimen collections to screen for sexually transmitted infections and facilitating numerous evidence based interventions (EBIs) such as Many Men, Many Voices (3MV), Defend Yourself (d-up!) and Mpowerment to Young African American men who have sex with men (YAAMSM). Mr. Driffin is active in volunteer roles both on the local, national and international levels. National, he currently serves as Chair Emeritus of The Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative (YBGLI) – a collection of committed young black gay, bi, SGL and other men who have sex with men (MSM) from around the country that work towards addressing the HIV epidemic in the United States. It is comprised of a group of Organizing Committee members who lead this initiative to educate, inspire and support our peers. YBGLI is a national initiative by the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition. On the international level, Mr. Driffin also serves as a member of The Global Forum on MSM & HIV Youth Reference Group (YRG). Daniel is currently completing coursework towards a Masters of Public Health.
Brendan Allison is a native of Pontiac, Michigan. He has resided in Georgia since 2006 and mostly recently, Atlanta. He is an insurance agent for State Farm and working on a Bachelors of Science in Nursing at Georgia State University. He wants to be a youth HIV activist to help end the epidemic within the metro Atlanta area. He believes that getting and keeping those infected and affected by HIV in Atlanta into care is what it will take to lessen, if not stop, the amount of new infections in Atlanta. In conjunction with a few other major issues in the metro Atlanta area, such as housing and food, as well as knowledge and compassionate healthcare providers is what Brendan believes will end this epidemic of new HIV infections in Atlanta.
D’Jona King describes herself as standing for acceptance and change. She is an HIV activist because she feels the world needs to see what a person living with HIV goes through and how they are just as normal as anyone else in the world. She explains, “Our blood is different; that’s it.” D’Jona desires to be a motivational speaker and is currently a Youth HIV/AIDs Policy Advisor with Georgia Equality. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s in Communications and hopes that it will aid in her goal of becoming a motivational speaker and advocate for people living with HIV. She is interested in showing people that no matter what they go through, life moves the way they want it to.
Christian Emile Dacus is a freelance graphic designer and photographer residing in Atlanta, Ga. After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Alabama he pursued a career in creative marketing, which lead him to working in New York’s fast paced night life entertainment industry for 8 years. Now, back in the South, Dacus is passionate about using his skills to benefit HIV/AIDS awareness. Currently, Dacus is working on a photography project called “POSITIVE” depicting people living with HIV and thriving. As a spoken word artist, he frequently speaks at poetry ciphers and open mic events around town. He truly believes that through proper education, we can prevent the spread of this epidemic.
Nina Martinez‘s premature birth in San Jose, California facilitated the need for a blood transfusion that infected her with the HIV virus in 1983. However, it was 1991 before her infection came to light during an accidental preoperative HIV test; she was eight years old. She shares her experiences to powerfully show that a healthy lifetime with HIV is possible; this, she believes is how we get people not to condone HIV, but to condone moving forward knowing HIV may be a part of one’s life. Nina holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in government from Georgetown University. She most often uses her public health talents on issues that lend themselves to policy solutions, which includes assuring patient confidentiality for individuals insured as dependents (including those aged 18-26) when seeking sensitive health services, such as HIV testing. Taking the marathon to end AIDS to task, she is also a multiple half-marathon finisher and completed her first Marine Corps Marathon this past October to benefit a Washington DC-based nonprofit, The Grassroot Project, where she sits on the board of directors. Nina is also a long-time clinical research volunteer with the National Institutes of Health (since 2003), through which she knows her participation increases diversity in clinical trials and other observational studies.
Lamar Yarborough On March 28, 2010, on his eighteenth birthday, Robert was diagnosed with AIDS. In December of the same year he was also diagnosed with Cancer. Despite these life changing events Robert prevailed. With much prayer and strong will, he beat cancer and became HIV undetectable (controlled). Living with the virus Robert grew an urge to work hands on with HIV/AIDS. He started volunteering with different organizations such as Ponce Center (IDP), Camp High Five, Emory (Pipe Line), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. along with various organizations who work with infectious diseases. Outside of these organizations Robert served as the Program Coordinator for the Atlanta based LOVE Coalition (Lifting our Voices to Equality, Inc.), a certified tester with The Empowerment Resource Center. Since then Mr. Yarborough has continued on to serve his community. He currently is on the Speakers bureau of Georgia Equality, Co –Chair of the consumer Advisory Board at IDP, a representative for the Ponce Center (IDP), and a volunteer staff as well as hold the position of Director of the arts program of the Love Coalition
Andre Johnson describes himself as one of the “freedom fighters” in Atlanta. Since the age of 17, he has been an advocate for LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ Youth of Color, and HIV/AIDS awareness. Andre has worked with prominent organizations providing HIV testing and counselling in Atlanta, such as Positive Impact, Stand, and YouthPride. Andre also served as Committee Member on the Ryan White Planning Council on the HOPWA committee. He currently serves as a Youth Advisor for the Fulton County HIV/AIDS, is a Task Force member and volunteer with Evolution Project of Aid Atlanta, and he also does outreach with Get Hip Get Connected of Mercy Care – a program that provides unconventional HIV testing and Linkage to Care. Andre is working towards his Bachelors in Social Work at Georgia State University.
Michael D. Lawrence is a current college student of Atlanta Metropolitan State College, majoring in Mass Communications with a minor in Sociology. When he is not in the classroom, Mike works within hospitality industry. He has volunteered on and off campus with Someone Cares of Atlanta, and AID ATLANTA.
Mike believes in a society where individuals can achieve spiritual, physical, and mental enlightenment and empowerment to help others achieve the same goal.
When asked about his passion, Mike stated, “I major in mass communications to be a voice. I want to understand sociology because I want to understand people. By understanding them, I have a better sense of self, and with self awareness comes purpose. I want to empower both the black community, as well as the LGBTQ community because I can identify with both.”
Once Mike obtains his degree, he plans to continue his education by obtaining a Bachelor in Business Management. “I plan to create my own radio station and social media platform. My goal is to create a brand, a standard, a network, a movement that empowers the community, promotes a better environment, and makes a positive impact on the lives of every human being.”
Damonte Pettygrue stands for the fair treatment as well as education and prevention of HIV. Though he is new to HIV research and advocacy, he is eager to advocate and educate while working to gain more experience in the field outside of his own lived experience. He has started with speaking to young audiences about the importance of knowing their status, as well as being informed of the risk. Being an advocate gives him the opportunity of speaking to communities about this virus, and ensuring them that not only is it possible for a cure, but that it can and will be stopped!
Jeremy Ford has a passion for many things, but his top three are education, the underdogs, and family. Jeremy likes to consider himself an underdog who has had the opportunity to change his outcome for the better. While being a full time student, Jeremy tested positive for HIV right before his senior year in college. Even with his new diagnosis, he never gave up and kept pushing for greatness- graduating with his Bachelors of Arts from The University of South Florida in the Spring of 2013. Jeremy then moved to Atlanta to continue his education at Clark Atlanta University, where he is studying Communications. Jeremy now works for Turner Broadcastings and he will complete his Masters program in the Fall of 2015. Jeremy realizes that his diagnosis is just that, and he still holds the power to his future. He plans on doing great things not only in the Communications field, but also in the Public Health field as well.